Bonn Diary #1: UN talks in Bonn offer unions hope
The UN has reopened climate negotiations here in Bonn with a sharper, slimmer draft text and our text from Copenhagen on just transition and decent work still intact. What we want now is to see these ideas of stakeholder participation and green and decent jobs carried forward from the opening, aspirational parts of the agreement to the practical, operational issues of how we cut emissions, adapt to climate change, and invest the major new climate change funds.
Meanwhile, to be frank, Day 1 didn’t get off to a great start. Chair Robert Owen-Jones (Australia) failed to invite a civil society respresentative to address the opening plenary. Had he forgotten Copenhagen – what it was like for us to be forced to queue outside the Copenhagen conference for hours on end in sub-zero temperatures? To see Governments trying to force developing nations to agreements that were never going to deliver the necessary CO2 cuts?
So civil society groups are now working on a letter to the UN, to “lodge our deep concern at the failure to ensure our participation relating to a planned intervention in the opening plenary on agenda item 16 (d), regarding, and not without irony, the issue of participation of civil society in the UNFCCC.”
Not that the gloom ends there. A report in the science journal Nature by prominent scientists has warned that the pledges in last December’s Copenhagen Accord will lead to a world with global emissions of 47.9 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of CO2 emissions by 2020, at least 10% higher than today’s levels. “It’s not on track, it is equivalent to racing towards a cliff and hoping to stop just before it”, the scientists say. The “gigatonne gap” as it’s called will come to dominate proceedings between now and Cancun in December, when the UN may/may not reach a final agreement.
So for today’s other plus point, the UN’s session on Long Term Co-operative Action, chaired by Zimbabwe, heard the EU reiterate its commitment to a Fast Start of $2.4 billion euros annually for developing countries over the period 2010 to 2012. The UK Coalition Government is sustaining its $1.5 billion contribution, which is really welcome.
Time is not on anyone’s side. Delegates from El Salvador, Guatemala and Grenada warn of the current impacts of climate change: “Current emission proposals are a death sentence for many states and vulnerable countries. Lack of progress has serious consequences for the viability of states. Our future survival and wellbeing is at stake.” What it will take to waken the sleeping giant of European or UK public opinion?
From Copenhagen to Bonn: text on labour and human rights survives:
- Realizing that addressing climate change requires a paradigm shift towards building a low emission society that offers substantial opportunities and ensures continued high growth and sustainable development, based on innovative technologies and more sustainable production and consumption and lifestyles, while ensuring a just transition of the workforce that creates decent work and quality jobs,
- Recognizing the need to engage a broad range of stakeholders at global, regional, national and local levels, be they governmental, including subnational and local government, private business or civil society, including the youth and persons with disability, and that gender equality and the effective participation of women and indigenous peoples are important for effective action on all aspects of climate change,
- Noting resolution 10/4 of the United Nations Human Rights Council on ‘Human rights and climate change’, which recognizes that the adverse effects of climate change have a range of direct and indirect implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights